What happens when you go to court for a slip and fall case in Los Angeles includes several steps that require your attorney to represent your interests, prepare and present evidence, and go before a judge and jury to determine the outcome of the case.
Slip and fall victims generally have two years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court under California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1. However, it is important to note that a significant majority of slip and fall cases settle before trial. Most do not proceed to the lawsuit stage, and most slip and fall victims never make a court appearance.
Filing a lawsuit usually occurs when it is not possible to negotiate a fair settlement with an insurance company or legal firm representing the property owner. An attorney for the slip and fall victim can submit paperwork in the appropriate jurisdiction to begin a premises liability lawsuit on their client’s behalf.
When Slip and Fall Cases Go to Trial in Los Angeles
In some Los Angeles slip and fall cases, a trial is necessary. This is generally only the case when:
- The property owner denies the allegations, and their insurer agrees
- The insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement
- There are allegations that you contributed to the injuries in your fall
- Your attorney has another reason why they believe a lawsuit may be necessary
If your case fits any of these categories, your attorney will help you decide whether to have a traditional trial decided by a jury or a bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge decides the verdict and issues the court award if the verdict supports this. It is important to note that if the court verdict does not go in your favor, you will not receive damages and will have to pay court costs.
The Premises Liability Civil Suit Legal Process
A specific process is usually what happens when you go to court for a slip and fall case in Los Angeles. The way a case progresses from pretrial through to the verdict includes:
Pre-Filing and Filing
Your lawyer will build a strong argument from the evidence available to show you have legal standing to file a lawsuit and establish that the defendant is guilty of negligence. Only then can they file the paperwork to officially begin your lawsuit.
Response or Default
After filing, there is a period for the defendant and their legal team to answer the civil challenge. They will either file an official response or default. If they default, this means they did not respond. This could mean the judge will grant a judgment in your favor.
Assuming the defendant responds to the lawsuit, discovery will begin. This process is when both sides gather additional evidence and gain access to the evidence the other party has in their possession. Often, this includes witness statements, expert testimony, video of the fall, photographs of the scene, and more.
A pretrial hearing allows the judge to meet with both the claimant–the injured party–and the defendant. During this meeting, the judge will ensure that both sides are ready for trial. In some cases, this hearing may also include a mandatory settlement conference (MSC), or the judge may order one under Rule 3.1380.
If there is no settlement agreement during the MSC, the case will go to trial. At trial, your attorney will need to present evidence to show:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care under California Civil Code (CIV) §1714.
- There was a hazard that caused your injuries.
- The defendant knew or should have known about the hazard in question.
- You incurred expenses and losses as a result of the fall and your injuries.
- The value of your related expenses and losses.
The judge and/or jury will consider the evidence presented and rule on whether the defendant acted negligently. A verdict in your favor will likely include a financial award to compensate you for your losses.
Speak to a Member of Our Slip and Fall Team in Los Angeles
You can discuss your case for free with a member of the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm in Los Angeles today. We will evaluate your case at no cost to you. If we offer to pursue damages on your behalf, you will not need to pay anything upfront, either. We handle these cases based on contingent attorney’s fees. Our firm is paid after we recover a financial award for you.
While we generally seek out-of-court settlements for our clients first, our trial lawyers can represent you in court if that becomes necessary in your case. You can learn more today by calling (800) 223-5115 to schedule your free consultation.